Auction day!

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It’s been an extremely busy and exciting month on the farm. We hosted the 3rd annual Vastrap Auction on 14 August, which is always one of the highlights of our year. It is a huge amount of work, but so rewarding when everything comes together on the day. Our auction preparations start early in the year, but really step up a gear about two months before the time. Quentin takes care of all the logistics to do with the animals and I coordinate the marketing and catering side of things. We work really well as a team because our completely different strengths and interests create a natural division of labour. Apart from endless shopping and to-do lists, I spend a lot of time updating our website (www.vastrapboran.com) and Facebook page and compiling the marketing information for each animal.

In the week leading up to the auction there is a huge amount of shopping and cooking to do. We host an informal dinner at our house the night before, and on auction day we provide snacks and refreshments in the morning and a lunch for 80-100 people. This year I needed a lot of help with the catering because I was already 33 weeks pregnant and wary of being on my feet too much. Thankfully I had an amazing team of helpers who embraced the challenge with gusto! Since our very first auction my half-sister, Beatrice has come to the farm from Stellenbosch to help with the catering and this year she was joined by my dad, John. My niece, Sibella, was also on holiday and stayed with us for the week. It was such fun having them all here and Livia just loved all the action and attention. I really couldn’t have done it without them.

Our partners in the auction are also a great help and Debbie Johnson from Frontier Boran in Fort Beaufort always does an amazing job with the flowers and table decor. This year she brought a whole lot of baby pineapples and echeveria which were artfully teamed up with barbed wire and hessian on the tables. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful blue-sky day and there was a great turn-out with quite a few new faces. We are incredibly grateful for everyone who travelled from far to be with us. What a pleasure when work is so much fun!

Behind the scenes with the catering team – John, Beatrice, Sibella & Debbie.

Auction day.

Auction day.

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John, Sibella, me, Debbie & Beatrice.

John, Sibella, me, Debbie & Beatrice.

Our boerboel puppy, Duma outside the auction tent.

Our boerboel puppy, Duma outside the auction tent.

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Livia with her grandpa and aunty.

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Keeping it cool behind the scenes!

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Livia with aunty Lesley, god-mother Vicky and tannie Jennie.

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Echeveria and pineapples.

Echeveria and pineapples.

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Time flies when you’re busy!

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Over the past two months all our energy has gone into the organisation of last Friday’s Vastrap Boran Auction. It’s the second year that we’ve held the sale on our farm so the workload was slightly less than last time, but still very demanding. I was in charge of all the marketing and entertainment logistics while Quentin took care of all the animal preparations. The weeks leading up to the auction are full of lists that need to be ticked off systematically and lots of stress about who’s going to come and whether there’ll be enough buyers! Quentin and I work really well as a team though and it was very satisfying to see everything come together on auction day. Click HERE if you’d like to see some photos from our website.

While all of this was going on, our little Livia has continued to grow and thrive. I can’t believe she is 7.5 months already! She is becoming a real little person with a very inquisitive mind. She loves to sit quietly and observe the passing scene, but she’s also becoming more vocal making new sounds every few days. She was very much part of the auction action, observing all of our frenetic preparations and joining in the fun on auction day. She was an absolute angel and was fascinated by the animals and very happy to be passed from one adoring aunty to another!

Speaking of aunties, my sister Beatrice came to Vastrap for auction week to help me with all the preparations. She is such a beautiful soul and a fantastic cook. She just took everything in her stride and quietly did what was needed – from whipping up the most delicious beef bourguignon and piles of yummy brownies, to playing with Livia and taking care of her bedtime routine. It was really wonderful to have her here and to witness the love between her and Livvy. Auntie Lesley, Quentin’s sister, also spent some time with us on auction day and she and Beatrice got on famously. What a treat to have such wonderful family time while we were busy working! We also loved the opportunity to socialise and get to know some of our fellow Boran breeders better. As much as we love our animals, the people really do add a wonderful dimension to our business and we really appreciated the effort people made to travel from far to be with us. Right now its impossible to feel anything but blessed!

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Many hands make light work!

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I can finally sit down and write a little bit about my experience organising the first annual Vastrap Boran auction. Wow, it really was a steep learning curve and a very exhausting week, but I’m so relieved that everything went off smoothly with no horrible surprises. I could not have done it without the help of many friends and family members who all mucked in to get things done. As someone commented during a particularly frenetic time, “this really is a case of many hands make light work, rather than too many cooks spoil the broth!” I was in charge of marketing and catering, while Quentin took care of all the cattle logistics and making sure that the building of our new cattle facilities was finished on time. I stepped in at the last minute to finish off the decor. It was a real team effort! So much of the work we did this year will not have to be repeated next year so hopefully it will not be quite as stressful the second time round.

We hosted a whisky tasting and dinner for 50 people at Vastrap on the night before the auction. The next day we provided hot drinks and refreshments before the start of the auction followed by a lunch for 100 people. I have never catered on this scale before and really didn’t know what to expect. Thank goodness for two angels who really helped me so much – my friend Vicky Barnard from Mequatling Angus and my sister Beatrice. They really do deserve special mention even though many other people also helped. Vicky is a seasoned auction organiser, having run one of the most successful Angus auctions in the country for the past eight years. She and her husband Philip have endured relentless questioning by me and Quentin over the past few months and very generously shared all their secrets about what works and what doesn’t. My eyes were truly opened when I went to help Vicky at their sale in July. It made such a difference to see everything in action. As a result, I pretty much knew what to expect on the day and made sure that I had my lists and instructions in place.

Beatrice came up specially from Stellenbosch to help us for the week. She is an absolute star in the kitchen and stepped in to help with a big smile on her face. And boy, did I need the help! With the Coco and the puppies needing to go to the vet and unanticipated errands cropping up all over the place, it was great to know that someone was at home getting on with the cooking and doing it better than I ever could! We had partners in the auction and fortunately some of them arrived the day before and helped with preparations. Debbie Johnson got stuck in with the flower arrangements and Karen Peinke immediately bonded with Beatrice in the kitchen. A real dream team! Not to mention the delicious steak and guinness pie made by Laura and patès made by Heidi for the whisky tasting, and the rusks made by Jenny!

Thank you Vicky!

I couldn’t have done it without Vicky!

Beautiful Beatrice.

… and beautiful Beatrice!

Preparations for the whisky tasting.

Preparations for the whisky tasting.

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For the auction lunch, we kept things simple. A steak braai with pepper sauce and sides of green bean, baby potato and red onion salad and a rocket, feta and roasted pumpkin salad. I ordered the most delicious mini koeksisters (a typically South African dessert) from Bloemfontein, which were devoured by all. A great trick we learnt from Philip and Vicky is to put some snack packs on each seat in the auction tent so that people don’t get too bored and hungry during the auction. We received many compliments for this little extra touch.

All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better turnout and better day. The weather played along, although it was a tad chilly, but the sun was shining and the wind stayed away. All the cattle were sold and our beautiful white cow Hope MHB 04-11 achieved the top price on the day followed closely by Kelly MHB 04-24. We are sad to see them go, but know that they will be happy in their new homes. Now it’s time for a little break before life returns to normal and we start to think about doing it again next year!

Karen and Matshepang making sandwiches on auction day.

Karen and Matshepang making sandwiches on auction day.

Posters for the cattle pens.

Posters for the cattle pens.

Tea station.

Tea station.

Stylish Debbie did a great job with the flowers.

Stylish Debbie and her beautiful flower arrangements.

The lunch tent.

The lunch tent.

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The auction ring.

The auction ring.

Let the bidding begin!

Let the bidding begin!

Gary and Andre, the steak braaiers.

Gary and Andre, the steak braaiers.